COLUMBUS, Ohio — Talk about junk justice.
An Ohio judge spared a man from jail for beating his wife’s heroin dealer with a baseball bat, saying he was sympathetic because the community has grown fed up with the scourge of drugs.
Judge Charles Schneider opted to give Edwin Sobony II two years probation instead of the two-to-eight years in prison he faced because of the community outcry and outpouring of letters of support sent on his behalf.
“I’m not supporting what Mr. Sobony did,” the judge said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “Vigilante justice is not supported by the court. But the people in this community have just had it.”
Sobony, a 38-year-old, postal worker, was convicted in September in the 2015 beating of the drug dealer, Larry Jewell, that sent him to the hospital with multiple skull fractures and left him blinded in one eye.
Sobony testified that he had warned Jewell , who is his wife’s cousin, many times to stay away from their house, but when he caught there last December, he just snapped.
“My actions were a little aggressive,” he said in court. “I’m sorry, but I felt I was protecting my family.”
News of the case led numerous people to offer donations to Sobony to help pay for his defense, which the judge noted.
“The reaction in the community was immediate, and it’s because this community has had it with drugs,” he said.
Ohio has been in the midst of a heroin epidemic, with 3,050 fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2015, up 20% from the year before, according to the state department of health.
Sobony said after the sentencing that his wife is managing her addiction and that they were looking forward to getting on with their lives.